Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has revealed his department staff have to ”eyeball” each of the more than 11,000 cases where GLAS and AEOS payments are held up.
“We have to identify the reason each payment did not go through and then find IT solutions to enable payments to go through,” said the minister.
He added: “It is neither an administrative resource issue nor an IT resource issue. We simply have to eyeball each of the individual applications that are presented as a challenge to get them through our system.”
The problems have arisen despite expenditure from 2014 to date of €7,540,383 on development, maintenance and enhancement of the Department’s Generic Claims Processing System (GCPS) computer software used for delivery of over 22 farm schemes in the last two years.
The GCPS system currently supports the various GLAS, TAMS II, Knowledge Transfer and Organic Farming Schemes, in addition to the AEOS and TAMS I schemes under the previous Rural Development Plan.
However, about 3,000 GLAS 1 and 6,000 GLAS 2 payments remained to be fully processed up to last week, due mainly to unanticipated outcomes of the checks required to be carried out on each individual application.
Almost 2,600 AEOS farmers remained unpaid.
Mr Creed said his department must ensure that all regulatory requirements are fully observed in processing payments, to protect against the risk of future disallowances by the EU.
He said specific issues delaying GLAS 1 and GLAS 2 payments include declaration of incompatible parcels in the basic payment scheme; changes in GLAS parcel boundaries; applicants no longer claiming a parcel on their 2016 BPS; incomplete documentation which participants have been asked to submit, such as incorrect information on low-emission slurry declaration, incomplete interim commonage management plans; and incompatible data and parcel history on department databases.
Outstanding AEOS 2 payments were largely delayed due to rechecks which must be completed on payments made for all scheme years before the final contract payment can be processed.
Outstanding payments under AEOS 3 were delayed by stocking density checks.
Payment had issued to 28,000 GLAS farmers and 6,020 AEOS farmers payments will continue as issues are resolved, and cases are processed.
According to IFA, some farmers who joined GLAS almost two years ago and were promised payments last October are still waiting.
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